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Sep 07, 2020, 08:07 PM
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Jet_Flyer's Avatar
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New Product

New FrSky X20 Tandem and ETHOS

New – FrSky X20 Tandem and ETHOS


I’ve been following the progress of the FrSky Tandem system going back to the first version picture published in April 2019 and it did not have much appeal to me. Then in May 2019, the all new Tandem design 3D rendering really appeal to me. Between then and receiving a test unit, about a week ago, I had the opportunity to follow the progress of the system with pictures and simulators. But, I know from past experience, pictures never quite fully prepare you to actually seeing a system firsthand holding it in your hands.

First Impression

In taking it out of its box and unwrapping it, my first impression was that it was smaller than I expected it would be from the pictures. It has a really nice feel in your hands. The small size, the gimbal positions at the very edge of the case, and the black side and back rubber grip positions make it very comfortable to hold and use. The ergonomics for using the side sliders and switches are very good. I like the shape of the case design and its fine details.

System Size and Weight

The system size and weight of less than two pounds with batteries is excellent. The width of 8” or about the same as a Q X7 and at 7 7/8” it is only about 1/4” taller than the Q X7 with its antenna folded and that is impressive. The main body of the case not including the back rubber grips is only 1 9/16”. The X20 is only .33lb more than a QX 7 SE ACCESS. A lot of X20 electronics engineered to fit in the small space of the system. FrSky is using some new technology that allows them to compress the electronics into a smaller space.

Its small size for a top display, light weight, and the way it feels in your hands make it a very desirable system.

As stated above the main body of the case is 1 9/16" thick. The back rubber grips are attached to the back outside area of the case. The case in this area is angled toward the front of the case making the outside case edge about 1 1/16". With the angled area the thickness of the grips do not add their full thickness to the total thickness of the case. The grips are thicker at the top.

Thickness added to the total case thickness by the grips.

Grip at top inside plus 5/16". Grip at outside edge plus 3/32".
Grip at bottom inside plus 3/16". Grip at outside edge minus 1/8".

Weight Numbers For Reference

0.85 lb X-Lite (with batteries and antenna)
1.31 lb X9 Lite (Li-ion)
1.62 lb Q X7S ACCESS (Li-ion)
1.72 lb X9DP SE ACCESS (Lipo)
1.76 lb Q X7 (NiMh)
1.84 lb X9DP ACCST (NiMh)
1.95 lb X20 (Li-ion)
2.03 lb 9C Futaba
2.16 lb X10
2.20 lb X10S
2.38 lb 16&18SZA Futaba
2.39 lb 12FG Futaba
2.54 lb Kraft 7C
2.65 lb 18MZA WC Futaba
2.87 lb X12S
2.87 lb Jeti

Touch Display

I really like the new 800X480 mat finish bezel-less touch screen display. It is very stylish looking and adds a modern look to the system. Having it located as close as possible to the top of the gimbals reduces the height of the system adding to the compactness of the system.

The touch screen is very responsive, displays beautiful colors, has an extraordinarily high viewing angle all the way down to 90 degrees and can be easily viewed in direct sunlight even with polarized sunglasses.

Touch or the navigation controls can be used or a mix of both.


Many of the systems from other vendors nowadays are mostly plastic, even some of the high end systems. The X20 aluminum M gimbal mounting plate with CNC machining and CNC machined aluminum gimbal ring add the look of a quality system. I especially like that the machined aluminum surface shows in its natural aluminum state. Really stands out in beautiful contrast to the color of the system.

The gimbal position at the very outside edge of the case is excellent.

The gimbal stick tension can be adjusted through two removable covers on each back rubber grip.

The gimbal has a hollow 4mm stick shaft with a hole in the gimbal mechanism for stick end switches. No extra switch ports are available, but the back case push button switches can be easily connected to for a switch source.

The aluminum gimbal rings are 1/16" thicker than the X10S moving M mounting plate 1/16" deeper into the case.

The gimbals have the usual nice feel and precision of the M Hall Effect gimbals.

Navigation Controls

The left navigation control does RET, SYS, MOD, TELE and Page UP/Down. The right navigation control does scroll and enter. The navigation controls or touch screen can be used.

Connections and switches

There is an area behind the base of the display for the external 2.4gig antenna, trainer jack, S.Port, SD card, USB-C connection (PC and Li battery balance charging), headphone jack and external 900mHz antenna.

There are six three position switches, one two position and one spring loaded two position.

Two front pots, one front slider and two side sliders.

There are six mode buttons on the front of the system and two push buttons on the back near the grips.


The system has a newly designed ISRM RF board that has a 2.4gig section and a 900mHz section. Two internal 2.4gig antennas are located in case area at the very top and side and one external antenna mount behind the display base. The 900mHz has one internal antenna in the handle and one external antenna mount behind the display base.

Up to 24 channels for 2.4gig ACCESS, 16 channels for D16 and 16 channels for 900mHz ACCESS.

There is a connection for a FrSky external Lite version RF module.


The system has a built-in 2S Li balance charger with a USB-C connection for a user provided external USB power source. The batteries are accessible through a battery hatch in the lower back area of the system.

The battery compartment is 84.5mm by 41.5 high and 20mm deep.


ETHOS definition, “the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations”.

The ETHOS touch screen operating system developed for the X20 was started more than a year ago on a blank sheet of paper. It is an all new OS that is designed for touch or navigation controls use or a mix of both. Some of the brightest and most experienced RC radio OS developers are involved in its creation.

FrSky is in the process of creating a web page for ETHOS that got inadvertently indexed by a search service and the link posted in this thread by a RCG user. Because of that I'm posting the link here. The site is incomplete, but when finished it will have the ETHOS PC Simulator and ETHOS downloads for Horus systems that have ACCESS ISRMs. X10S Express, X10S with ISRM and X12S with ISRM.

There will be more about ETHOS in the coming weeks.

Note: This unit is an early test unit, is not complete and because of that I'm limited on the images I can share.. I'll have a more completed system in a few weeks and then I can then post more detailed images.

Feel free to comment and ask questions and I’ll do my best to provide answers.

To be continued…

Last edited by Jet_Flyer; Sep 13, 2020 at 06:13 PM.
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Sep 07, 2020, 08:08 PM
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Jet_Flyer's Avatar
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Last edited by Jet_Flyer; Sep 07, 2020 at 08:25 PM.
Sep 07, 2020, 08:08 PM
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Jet_Flyer's Avatar
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ETHOS Touch Screen Operating System
Last edited by Jet_Flyer; Sep 07, 2020 at 08:38 PM.
Sep 07, 2020, 08:25 PM
slats move, slots don't
Andy852's Avatar
Any photos of the back of the radio?
Sep 07, 2020, 08:53 PM
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Jet_Flyer's Avatar
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Originally Posted by Andy852
Any photos of the back of the radio?

Sep 07, 2020, 09:51 PM
Let's fly !
DaySpeed's Avatar
Very nice.
I guess that the display has the same resolution has the Horus series?
OpenTX supported?

Is Ethos similar to FrOS or very different?

Thanks so much!
Sep 07, 2020, 10:11 PM
slats move, slots don't
Andy852's Avatar
Originally Posted by Jet_Flyer

Thanks Mike, looks interesting indeed.
Sep 08, 2020, 12:44 AM
Registered User

Are stick switches possible?


what about possibility of 2 stick switches
are there 1-2 free sockets inside
gimbal with 4mm and hole for the cables

internal charger unit got to hot?
Charging current 0,5A, 1A, 2A with 2,1A external USB Power unit?

1S or 2S with 18650 or 21700?
Last edited by helle; Sep 08, 2020 at 01:26 AM.
Sep 08, 2020, 01:28 AM
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taurineman's Avatar
Will OTX get a port?

Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk
Sep 08, 2020, 02:29 AM
Registered User

Internal antenna installation

The two 2.4 GHz antennas are supposedly installed in the frame around the display, a photo of its installation would be appreciated. This antenna installation is a critical matter which controls the signal distribution. And an excellent signal distribution is number one feature (for me at least) of an Tx while everything else comes second. Jeti has successfully demonstrated with its DS-16 how to achieve this, it has installed four antennas in the frame around its display. Jeti however also has given an excellent example with its latest DS-12 how disadvantageous a saving-money-installation is with only two antennas in the display frame. The result of this low cost installation is an existant and noticeable weaker transmission signal on the right side/direction of the transmitter. The criticality of antenna installation for a Tx with display on its top was brought and explained to FrSky at an early development stage to avoid a disadvantageous installation. Will become quite interesting how the X20 antenna installation proves itself for a good signal distribution not only in front direction of the Tx but also to the left and right side of Tx. There are many pilots who do not turn around during flight to always point the Tx front side towards the model. Also these pilots do not want to be repeatedly bothered by weak signal alarms. So let's see what future will tell us.
Last edited by FJH; Sep 08, 2020 at 02:48 AM.
Sep 08, 2020, 02:34 AM
Dash till Puff
coreless's Avatar
does anyone like the switches or think it's the best shape ?
the upper back switch appears to be unreachable unless you have a XXL size hand.
Sep 08, 2020, 02:47 AM
Registered User
Thoemse's Avatar
I want this so bad!
I like my X12S but it is a pretty heavy piece of hardware and I'd trade the sliders in the middle for side sliders any day.

The only unknown to me is ETHOS. I am an OpenTx fan. Lets hope OpenTx will be available too or ETHOS is even better.
Sep 08, 2020, 03:07 AM
Registered Slopeaphile
awmeade's Avatar
Very nice, watching closely. Thanks for the post.
Sep 08, 2020, 03:14 AM
Registered User
The handle is now made of plastic instead of metal, and is quite chunky – is it possible that the 900mhz antenna is hiding in there?
Sep 08, 2020, 03:19 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by coreless
does anyone like the switches or think it's the best shape ?
the upper back switch appears to be unreachable unless you have a XXL size hand.
Does anyone like anything on a forum? First thing most people do is rip into a product and then tell everyone else what they think is best or how it should have been done, lol.

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